Fun-filled, traumatic, joyous, troublesome, boring, cruel, pleasing, satisfying, challenging, tempting, misleading - yes Life is full of 'em - that is why life is so very SPECIAL - and yet the thrill is in "living" life! And all the accompanying ordeals are the frills attached with the thrills.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Snail Mail

Many times I can't stop myself from wondering if the attribute 'Snail' for the conventional mail is fair enough. But when comparing the regular mail with the electronic-mail, the former does seem to traverse in a snail's pace. But inspite of the time it takes, with a possibility of the letter getting damaged or not reaching the intended recepient at all or getting delayed due to strikes or rains, I still love the snail-mail mode the best!!

A handwritten note from a friend, relative, loved one is a treasure worth to be preserved. The very sight of the handwriting makes the writer's face pop up in front of your eyes (just like those movie scenes when the actor/actress' face shows up on the letter).

I still have a huge collection of letters from my friends, parents (when I was in hostel), relatives and even teachers. Each letter definitely seems to me like a priceless antique which I would not want to part with for anything in this world.

During my 'infant' stages of letter writing, I used to be pretty concerned about not to make any grammatical mistakes when writing in English and consciously tried to induce novel words to display my vocabulary skills :-) and with age letters were meant to be more "hep" and "youthful" with lots of jargons, smileys, hanging sentences, more colloquial and wrong spellings.

I used to like it best when I get letters in covers - esp the 1Re stamped ones in bright yellow colour. When receiving one, I felt the person had lots to say. The old inland letters which used to be sealed only on 2 sides added to our challenges. As adolescent kids, we never missed a chance to read those letters (ofcourse meant for others) without opening them.

The postcards were for the not-so-secretive matters. How I remember the origin of "if you do not send this to 15 people within 10 days..." in postcards then and it seems to continue till date thru' e-mails. My dad would showcase his skills on a card by squeezing as much contents as possible on that little space (ofcourse my friends in hostel then would translate that as stinginess). The postcard was and is the cheapest mode of letter even today. By just spending 10 or 15 paise then, you could send a postcard from Kanyakumari till Kashmir.

'Air-mail' letters were of different kind. The neat letter pad sheets - often in striking yellow or sparkling white colours - were trademarks of the 'phoren' letters. The foreign letter was also a stamp-collector's delight. I remember doing this then - carefully tearing off the envelope part which had the stamps, soaking them in water for the stamps to detach themselves from the cover and placing them between book pages to dry.

Grandmothers' letters were another lot. The words were hard to decipher in that they had no comas, punctuations and the spaces between letters and words would be the same. I remember going to the aid of my neighbour paatti for whom I was the draftsman! It used to be a typical stenographer act - fun-filled and feeling the joy of how well your reading/writing knowledge can be put to use. Ofcourse, I would have to re-phrase her words to be more "letter-compatible".

I wonder if in today's era of e-mails, the letter-writing exercise (in English subject) would ever make sense to the students. The neat drawing of an envelope with a little box at the top right corner for a stamp, instructions flowing down mentally : 'From' address on the top right corner for personal letters and left corner for business letters, 'sub:' is a must for official letters, No apostrophe in "yours", the date should figure on the top right corner, no coma or colon after "To" - the letter writing section carrying 10 marks was like a cake-walk.

Just like those numerous little joys which the future generation sadly miss out - should I say because of techological advancement? - the "Snail mail" is another one in that list.

4 comments:

Nithya Swaminathan said...

nice post Ravi...:) Yeah, the future generation will certainly miss out on it...

when my cousin first went to the US, more than 10 yrs back, we got a fone call that she had reached safely... but it was her handwritten letter that arrived some 1 month later, that we treasured for a long long time!

similarly the greeting cards too.. i have all my bday cards from friends treasured till date... hate these e-cards!

Ravi said...

Thanks Nithya for coming by. I am happy that still people treasure conventional practices.

IBH said...

hi ravi, came via Indira's blog....I am afraid it will be lost forever..in my family it is only me and my Father In law who believes in snail mails...though it takes about a month for a letter to reach USA...he sends me every month one leter and i treasure that much....

Ravi said...

Hi ibh, thanks for dropping in. Reading your posts, I was reminded of my hostel days. Inspite of the phone calls, I used to long for those detailed hand written mails from parents and I still preserve them. Happy that there are people who still appreciate and attach sentimental value to the regular mail.